Another animation veteran who often falls below the radar because he was, well, just a solid, dependable, no-nonsense animation artist who worked in the trenches and contributed to great art: Tony Rivera...
Tony came into the cartoon business in the middle thirties, worked at one of Grim Natwick's assistants on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," walked out on strike at Disney's in 1941 and thereafter worked at almost every animation studio of note until his retirement half a century later. (Click on that link up above for tales of Tony on "Cartoon Diaries.")
When I knew Tony, he was doing layouts for Hanna-Barbera on "Yogi Bear" and "Quick Draw McGraw." I knew him not through my background-artist father, but through my mother, who dragged me to weekly piano lessons with Tony's wife Mary. Their Tujunga house sat high on the slopes of the Angeles Crest Mountains, and I have vivid memories of the long, vertical driveway, yucca plants, and the sharp odor of hardwood mesquite. (Then as now, lots of animation people lived in the uplands of the Crescenta-Canada valley, which encompasses Sunland-Tujunga, La Crescenta, and La Canada-Flintridge.)
I would almost always arrive early for my piano lesson (I was a ghastly student), and beeline for Tony's studio on the west end of their airy house. There I would watch Mr. Rivera draw layouts for the latest H-B short.
The studio was roaring then (this was 1960) and stuffed to the rafters. Tony, like many staff artists, worked at home, turning out the layouts for a "Quick Draw" or "Yogi" short every week. I would stand there, my 11-year-old mouth hanging open, and watch him draw -- the horizon line, trees, the curves and planes of Yogi and Boo-Boo in the foreground And he would talk to me about what he was doing, show me the storyboards from which he worked, and demonstrate the Lucy where he enlarged story panels. I remember it seemed a lot different than watching my father painting water colors in his studio.
And we're now further away from that time than Tony was from his beginnings at the Disney Hyperion studio in 1960. Scary.
Below: In 1985 (a year before his death), Tony Rivera accepts the Golden Award from Local 839 Business Representative Bud Hester.